Workers’ Party (WP) MP for Aljunied GRC Leon Perera shared his gladness over the progress that is being made in “addressing the risks of- electronic gaming loot-boxes in potentially habituating gambling behaviour among the young”.
In Facebook post on Thursday (23 October) where he noted that he has already spoken about this issue twice in the last term of Parliament, he quoted a speech he made back in March 2020 when he referenced various studies that showed evidence linking loot-boxes to problem gambling.
He had went on to state in that parliamentary speech that several countries have taken steps to address this issue. He quoted, “Belgium has banned loot boxes purchased using real money. The UK National Health Service has also called for the industry to ban loot boxes. Its Mental Health Director Claire Murdoch warned that these were in danger of “setting kids up for addiction”.
Mr Perera had then urged the government to also take action, saying, “Singapore ought to consider implementing, at the very least, regulations to limit access to micro-transaction-driven loot boxes by youth, so as to prevent habituation to addictive gambling-like behaviour among young gamers.”
In his Facebook post, the MP was referencing an article by the Straits Times which reported that the cyber wellness education resources will be updated to include material on the “dangers of loot boxes” which will be part of the Ministry of Education (MOE)’s new character and citizenship education curriculum in 2021.
However, the MOE also told ST that it would not be made compulsory for teachers to use those specific resources on loot-boxes and other gaming risks as part of their cyber wellness lessons, saying that the materials are provided as additional resources that they can use if they so wish.
This is a step up from the current character and citizenship education syllabus rolled out in 2014 which doesn’t include any mention of loot-boxes.
Director of MOE’s guidance branch of the Student Development Curriculum Division was quoted as saying, “There will be a greater emphasis on equipping students to recognise risks in the digital space, identify and discern negative influences and inappropriate websites, and manage excessive use of social media.”
“Through character and citizenship education lessons, our students are taught the dangers of excessive gaming, gambling, and other addictive behaviours. They are also taught the importance of exercising self-control, how to lead balanced lives and explore healthy leisure activities, as well as how to support their peers who may need help.”